Monday, May 26, 2008

The Secret Formula For a Book Proposal

Article by Mahesh Grossman.



What follows is the format for a book proposal - what you need to submit to publishers in order to land a book deal.

1) THE TITLE PAGE Type the title and subtitle of your book in the center of the page. Then add your contact information (snail mail, email, and phone numbers).

Believe it or not, your title page is one of the most important ingredients in the secret formula. Why? Because an irresistible title may mean the difference between getting published and being turned down. It can also increase the size of your advance.

If you want to make an editor or an agent eager to read the rest of your proposal, make sure you have a mouthwatering title. It'll propel your proposal to the top of the stack.

2) ENDORSEMENTS (optional) Including endorsements with your book proposal is a very powerful way to make your proposal stand out from the pack, particularly if they come from celebrities, bestselling authors, or prominent people in your field. 3) TABLE OF CONTENTS (for the proposal) Simply list the sections of your book proposal and the pages they are on. This will make it easier for anyone who reads it.

4) THE OVERVIEW The overview is a one to three page miniature version of your book proposal. You've got sixty seconds to prove that your book idea is good enough to 'go to Hollywood'. If an agent likes what she reads here, she'll read the rest of your proposal. If not, she may move on to the next one in her stack.

Imitate the back of a paperback, starting off with two sentences that hook a reader's attention. Make sure you include the main benefits and features of your book, who its audience will be, and why they'll buy your book instead of another one that is already published. Add one or two paragraphs that explain why you're especially qualified to be the author of this text.

5) THE AUDIENCE Your job is to prove to an agent or editor that there are enough people interested in the subject matter of this book to make it worth publishing. First, describe the typical reader. Next, describe how this book will solve their problems. Then describe other people who will also be interested in this book.

Once you've described these people and their characteristics, add statistics. Include whatever statistics you can find. One technique commonly used to show the size of an audience is to list all the magazines on a topic and the number of subscribers they have.

6) THE COMPETITION For this section, answer the following questions: - How many books compete with yours? - How well have have these books done? - How does your book differ from each of those books? What does your book do better than they do?

7) ABOUT THE AUTHOR Strut your stuff and show why you are qualified to write on your particular topic here. Also mention your general writing experience. Of particular interest is anything that indicates you have a built-in audience for your book.

8) FORMAT What will your book look like when it's published? Physically describe it here. How many words will it be? (A double-spaced manuscript page contains 250 words.) How long it will take you to finish? (Take your best guess and then add three months.) Hardcover, trade paperback, or mass market paperback? Drawings or photographs? How many? Color or black and white? Sidebars, checklists, quizzes, exercises or case studies?

9) PROMOTION STRATEGIES Publishers need to be convinced that your book will sell. Tell them how you will make that happen. Show how you plan on getting your book in front of the specific target audiences you mention earlier in the proposal.

10) OUTLINE The outline proves you have enough to say to fill a book. Make it look like a table of contents minus the page numbers. Indicate Part I, Part II, etc., and individual chapter titles.

11) CHAPTER SUMMARIES Build even more evidence that you have a whole book, not just a long magazine article. Briefly describe the material you will include in each chapter for about a half a page.

12) SAMPLE CHAPTERS In your sample chapters, agents want to see your knowledge, your heart, your personality and your writing skill. Pick chapters that involve the meat of your topic. Make the beginning of each chapter enticing. End each in a way that leaves the reader curious about what's next.

13) APPENDIX Include press clippings published writing, brochures and testimonials. Enclose video of your greatest television appearance, or a cassette of your best radio interview.

Put these ingredients together in a bottle, shake vigorously, and you have the secret formula that has been selling books for decades.


Brian M Logan

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